“The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children." G K Chesterton

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Beauty in the Word: And We are Off...sort of.

In spite of the awful, terrible, no-good, timing, I am looking forward to rereading Beauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of Education The minute I reread Anthony Esolen's Foreword I was glad I had made the decision.

First a caveat: This book is written from a Christian and Catholic point-of-view. I am a Christian, but I am not a Catholic. Some of my best friends are Catholic though (wink) and many of you.  The Catholics get the award for continuing to think about Christian education long after Protestants had given over their children to the public schools.  Classical education in America was almost entirely Catholic until recently.  The Catholics have a rich tradition to draw from in the area of education. This is why I am often most kindred with Catholic educators.

This idea of tradition reminds me of something that happened this week which illustrates something I have been trying to communicate lately on the blog.

I hate getting to a baseball game in time to hear the National Anthem. It is a painful song to listen to. It does not really stir the emotions. I went through a stage where I did not want to put my hand over my heart during the Anthem because my allegiance, I reasoned, was to God not country; I am not a Landmark Baptist. But then it hit me. Alex was always by me-watching me.  What good could come of debunking my country? What good could come from teaching him not to care?  I hear James K.A. Smith in my head saying that I am making nationalism my religion and I get that. Putting my hand over my heart is very similar to raising my hands to hear the benediction at church. In fact, Alex always looks over at me during that too.  And there is the rub.  There is also something religious about apathy. We can trade in our patriotism but the 10 demons that take its place are terrifying to me as a mother.

Oh, dear, I have not even mentioned the Introduction. Later.....

( If you have ever bought anything via my Amazon Links-Thank-you. I use that money to buy birthday gifts for my grandchildren. We are in the midst of birthday season here and that money is so helpful.)


  1. I'm not reading along this time, but I wanted to say thank you for this. I'm afraid I'm often too principled in the wrong ways.

  2. Ack, I forgot to start the book this week. I'm already behind before I've even begun. Sigh. I will definitely try to read along but whether or not I'll blog along is unknown. It depends on how much thinking/writing time I can find over the next few months. Thanks for reminding me.

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  4. I started reading as soon as I bought it, thank you! Not sure I would have found this book otherwise and the timing is perfect. This is not the first book to read on my Kindle, but the first to really read and think and highlight. I'm not a fan of writing in my paper books so I am highlighting with wild abandon. lol Anthony Esolen's words, "Thus when we teach our youngest children by means of rhymes and songs, we do so not merely because rhymes and songs are actually effective mnemonic devices. We do so because we wish to form their souls by memory: we wish to bring them up as rememberers, as persons, born, as Caldecott points out, in certain localities, among certain people, who bear a certain history, and who claim our love and loyalty." as you quoted were my first highlight. Also the bit directly following "The memory, too, gives the child both the strength and the armor he needs for what comes next, and that is thought itself--strength to search for truth, and armor against easy and plausible falsehoods." So good right there.